Contraception Advice for Students
University is often the time when young people begin to experiment and explore their sexuality. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying your sex life, it is important to make sure that you are staying safe and using appropriate contraception. If you can, you should think about contraception well before you begin to have sex, so that you can take your time and choose the contraception that is right for you.
There are many different contraceptive options, the two most common being male condoms which are available free from your doctor and the pill on repeat prescription. You may have to try a few different methods before you find a method with which you are happy. Bear in mind that the effectiveness given for each form of contraception is based upon you using it properly.
Effectiveness: 98% (male condoms) and 95% (female condoms)
How It Works: Both male and female condoms form a physical barrier that prevent sperm from reaching the egg.
- They are the only form of contraception that help to prevent the transmission of STIs, including HIV.
- Male condoms are easily available from a variety of shops and pharmacies.
- No prescription is required.
- Oral medications do not decrease its effectiveness.
- They can become expensive if purchased regularly.
- They can interrupt sex.
- Female condoms are not always available.
- Some people do not like the sensation.
- Some lubricants can decrease their effectiveness
2) Combined Contraceptive Pill
Effectiveness: Over 99%.
How It Works: The pill contains synthetic versions of the hormones that women produce naturally. It prevents ovulation, thickens cervical mucus and thins the womb's lining. One pill is taken every day for 21 days followed by seven days of no pills or placebo pills.
- The pill can help some women with acne, painful or heavy periods, endometriosis, and PMS.
- Some women have trouble remembering to take their pill every day.
- Not all women can take the pill.
- Some women may find that the pill effects their mood.
- Certain drugs can interfere with the pill's effectiveness.
3) The Progesterone Only Pill
Effectiveness: More than 99%.
How It Works: It thickens cervical mucus, blocking entry by sperm and thins the womb's lining so that it is not suitable for implantation.
- It is suitable for some women who cannot take the combined pill.
- It can cause mood swings and other side effects.
- Your periods may become irregular.
- Some women have difficulty remembering when to take it.
- Some medications decrease its effectiveness.
4) The Contraceptive Implant and Injection
Effectiveness: Both are over 99% effective.
How It Works: Both slowly release progesterone into your bloodstream so that you do not ovulate, your cervical mucus thickens and your womb lining thins. The contraceptive implant in your arm lasts for three years, while the injection must be repeated every 12 or 8 weeks, depending on the type of injection.
- You do not have to remember to take a pill every day.
- A small amount of pain when the implant is inserted and when receiving the injection.
- Your periods may change and become irregular or stop.
- The injection's side effects can last up to 12 weeks.
- You may gain weight with the injection.
5) The Contraceptive Patch
Effectiveness: over 99%.
How It Works: The small patch is stuck to your skin and releases oestrogen and progesterone into your blood stream so that you do not ovulate. You replace the patch with a new one every week for three weeks, followed by one week with no patch.
- You do not have to think about it every day.
- It is effective even if you have diarrhoea or vomiting.
- It can help with heavy periods and help reduce the risk of some cancers.
- It is not as effective if you weigh over 14 stone.
- It can be itchy or cause skin irritation.
- It may be visible.
- It can change your periods.
6) The Vaginal Rings
Effectiveness: Over 99%.
How It Works: You place the ring inside your vagina for 21 days, followed by a seven day break and the insertion of a new ring. It releases oestrogen and progesterone to prevent ovulation.
- It does not interrupt sex.
- You don't have to think about it every day.
- It can make periods lighter and less painful.
- It is not effected by stomach upsets.
- Not all women can use the ring.
- It can cause side effects such as mood swings.
- Your partner may feel it during sex.